The Islamic religion in Algeria dominates its demography, with around 99% of the population being followers of the faith. The vast majority of them follow Sunni Islam. According to the estimations of the U.S. State Department statistics, there are only around 100,000 Christians, most of whom are Protestants, and approximately 2,000 Jews living in Algeria. Freedom of religion is regulated by the constitution which declares Islam a state religion. However, it prohibits any discrimination and allows freedom of worship and opinion.
Sunni Islam in Algeria constitutes the majority of the population. Most government officials in Algeria are Sunnis and therefore, Algerian politics revolves around Sunni beliefs and practices. The constitution of Algeria incorporates all Islamic beliefs. No law in the country is allowed to contradict Islamic faith and teachings.
Judaism in Algeria dates back to the 14th Century when Jews migrated in large numbers into Algeria after being persecuted and driven from Spain. Six centuries later in 1934, the Muslims, incited by the actions of Nazi Germany, killed masses of Jews and injured many more. From 1940 and onward, Jews were persecuted both socially and economically. After Algeria received independence from France, the government became even more hostile towards the Jews, forcing most of them to migrate to France or elsewhere.
Protestantism in Algeria has had a presence in Algeria since the time of the French rule. They had their first synod in 1843 when the French Methodists began missionary work. In 1914, American Methodists joined the French Methodist in missionary and evangelical work. In 1972, the French and the Americans joined to form the Protestant Church of Algeria. Protestants number 50,000 to 100,000 people in Algeria.
There are few Shiite Muslims in Algeria, a remnant of the population of those who were around in the Middle Ages. In the late 9th Century, Abdullah started a movement and managed to convert many of the Kutama Berbers to Shia Islam. Today, they comprise around 2% of the total population in Algeria. The Sunnis do not consider Shiite Muslims as true Muslims. They only recognize twelve Imams as their religious leaders and believe that the Sunni leaders illegally reinstated the wrong people into leadership after the death of Prophet Muhammad.
Religious Freedom and Tolerance in Algeria
The Christians and Jews are generally allowed to practice their faith without interference from the government. The law recognizes marriages between the Muslim men and non-Muslim women but not Muslim women to non-Muslim men. The children follow the religion of their fathers. The non-Muslims live under threats by the armed Islamic groups who try to rid the country of any persons who do not share their beliefs. Other religions in Algeria include Ibadi Islam, Roman Catholic Christianity, the Baha'i Faith, Ahmadi Islam, and atheism.